Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Banana Devil Cake by Susan A. King #BlogTour


Chez Maximka, cosy mystery set in the English village

"I do call to mind as a child having a great penchant for my grandmother's banana devil cake. It was her own recipe, of course, you won't find it in any recipe book, not even Delia Smith's. As an aside, it was actually I who first foretold Delia's rise to fame... Quite simple really, it had bananas in it and was, as my grandmother used to say, a devil to make".

Years ago, when I came as a young student to the UK, one of my Mum's acquaintances has accosted her in the street, saying why would she let her child live in England, as according to her, there were murders happening all around. All her knowledge of the British crime came from watching Midsomer Murders, Miss Marple and Poirot, as well as Jonathan Creek (utterly ridiculous, of course, as the mafia wars in Russia in the 1990s were rampant). 

Reading Banana Devil Cake by Susan A. King reminded me of that bizarre conversation, as surely this cosy mystery would have only contributed to that lady's belief that the English villages are the most perilous places in the world, with an incredibly high body count.

The village of Elmsbury has just about recovered from the murder of last year's fĂȘte judge. The local WI ladies share cake and gossip with an equal passion. Everything seems to be returning back to normal, until the arrival of a newcomer to the village unsettles the social equilibrium. 

The newcomer happens to be a retired TV celebrity, who is invited to become a judge for the forthcoming Great Bake Challenge at the village fĂȘte. "Nobody wanted to risk a repeat of last year's disappointing outcome and they were looking forward to receiving their leader's valuable feedback in order to elevate their recipes to prize-worthy status". Thus the war of the cakes commences.

Beattie Bramshaw, a formidable local busybody, is getting ready for her long-awaited engagement party. On top of all the worries about the buffet and helium party balloons, she sets her heart on saving the elm tree in the middle of the Green, which gives the village its name. Nobody seems to be much interested in the fate of the tree, but that does not deter Beattie. She is a strong-willed woman on a mission, and won't be defeated.

Beattie is totally batty. Her idea to save the elm tree is to chain herself to the tree and invite the local newpapers and TV crews. While her ideas might be honourable, the way she goes about her, ordering her minions to bring her meals, provide her with a tent and a portaloo, is a bit bolshy. The WI ladies are more interested in winning the favour of the judge of the Great Bake Challenge, than in saving the elm.

Doug, her husband-to-be is often on the receiving end of her irritation. "If ever a woman had a strong mind it was Beattie and, although he adored every fibre of her being and had suspected his own opinions might well take a back seat, this latest venture had seen her become bullish to the point of stubborn".

There is a dissent in the ranks of the WI ladies, and when two members of the honourable institution are found dead in strange circumsatnces, Beattie sets her mind on solving the mystery before any of her friends becomes another victim. "Two deaths in as many days wasn't only extraordinary, it exceeded the realms of possibility. How could two women who led ordinary, quiet lives, and both members of the Elmsbury WI, have died within hours of each other?"

The police come with the most preposterous ideas about how the death might have happened, so it's up to Beattie to find the murderer. "I think it's safe to say Elmsbury has turned into a veritable Murder She Wrote", says Beattie. And just like Jessica Fletcher, she is one determined lady.

Apart from Beattie, there is a whole lot of supporting characters, of different importance to the plot. They all bring an additional humorous dimension to the development of the story. You will love the inane impromptu sermon given by the vicar, where he finds inspiration in the Suffragettes and Winnie the Pooh. The preliminary cake testing session is utterly hilarious.

I was reading this book in bed, trying to keep my chuckles quiet so as not to disturb anyone. 

Banana Devil Cake would appeal to the fans of the Agatha Raisin series. It is a light, amusing cosy mystery, with an entertaining cast of characters and a delightful setting. This book will make you laugh and cheer. Jessica Fletcher would definitely approve!

Chez Maximka, cozy mystery set in the English village

Purchase Links

UK -

US -

Author Bio 

Susan A. King lives with her husband in a quiet suburb in Hampshire. Between them they have four grown-up sons.

The inspiration for her Beattie Bramshaw novels comes from her long experience and observation of competitors at the local Romsey Show, where she regularly aspires to win Best in Show with her floral arrangements.

Social Media Links – Twitter @SusanKing63 Insta @susan.king63

This post is part of the blog tour for Banana Devil Cake.

Many thanks to Susan A. King, Eye/Lightning Books and Rachel's Random Resources for my e-copy of the book!

cozy mystery, cosy mystery,

Chez Maximka, cosy mystery set in the English village

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great book and that cake looks delicious too ! :)